How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near San Tan Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near San Tan Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for San Tan Valley AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near San Tan Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in San Tan Valley AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some San Tan Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from San Tan Valley and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the San Tan Valley AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of San Tan Valley AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your San Tan Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in San Tan Valley AZ.